Jul 31, 2006

Lean Thoughts

It is the eve of our week long “Extreme Plant Makeover” blitz at our LZB Dayton TN Campus. The coordinating team has been working hard for several weeks getting the agenda prepared and all of the assignments identified.

We know the event will be exciting and will provide our champions opportunities to share best practices, leverage resources and learn together during the week-long journey. We are excited that several of our key suppliers will be providing intensive coaching clinics during the week. In some areas, we may not get the extreme results, but if we can create Vision, Mission and a good jump-start on integrating or 5S+1 desires with our VSM identified projects … we will be more than satisfied.

This week you will be able to follow the progress of the event by logging daily --maybe even hourly -- onto this blog. We will be posting victories, accomplishments and challenges complete with pictures. So if you were not able to be here … there is an opportunity to attend and participate virtually.

-- Richard Kunst

Jul 29, 2006

5S coaches/champions get a preview of the blitz

This is the text of a letter sent by Don Butcher, VP, La-Z-Boy Dayton plant, to key members of the blitz team...

Congratulations! You have been selected to be a 5S Coach and a Champion in our 5S+1 Makeover Blitz during the week of July 31st – August 4th.

During the next week, we will be conducting 5S cleaning and organizing activities with the help and support of 5S Champions throughout the division, as well as numerous other guests and Lean experts. The project will be facilitated by Richard Kunst, Patrick Hart, and Chris White of La-Z-Boy Continuous Improvement, and Richard Evans, of the Canadian-based company Messier-Dowty.

During the week you will be participating in a wide variety of training sessions and workshops, each designed to enhance your knowledge of 5S+1 and visual systems, and expose you to the various tools and products we have to assist you, and all of our employees in our planned 5S+1 transformation. You will also be asked to conduct a 5-minute 5S tutorial with employees in your area each day, and to assist in the implementation of “5S projects” in your area as time and work schedules permit. Each one of the projects is designed to reduce waste and eliminate clutter, and all of the projects will take only one man-hour per person in that area.

In addition to our own La-Z-Boy Dayton employees, a team of outside eyes (and hands) will be helping transform some of our departments in need of attention into safe, clean, and effective workspaces.

• Have all our 5S Champions trained in 5S and its benefits and practicing 5S on a daily basis.
• 10% throughput improvement.
• Elimination of safety hazards
• A clean work environment, better organization, and more space
• Less searching for tools and parts
• Develop simple easy-to-follow work instructions
• Train 5S Coaches in 5S+1 methodologies, Visual workplace, Visual Work Instructions and Total Productive Maintenance
• Have 5S Coaches conduct tutorials with plant employees for a 5-minute period each day during the blitz, with one of the S’s conducted each day
• Maintain 5-minute 5S activities after the event
• Have 5S Coaches (with the help of facilitators and outside eyes) direct employees in their area in 1-hour per person 5S assignments (time and schedule permitting)
• Have outside eyes and visitors conduct “Intensive Care” 5S activities in 8 areas of the Dayton campus: (06: Poly, Cells, Upholstery Stocking, WSC, MSC; 19: Poly, Cells, Cutting)

The purpose of the 5S Makeover Blitz is to remove unnecessary materials and items, and improve process and material flow, and overall efficiency. 5S activities also aim to reduce safety hazards and create a clean, professional working environment for all La-Z-Boy employees.

The project will take place of the course of 1 week, but the 5S effort will continue always. The training sessions will last from ½ an hour to 2 hours depending on the date. The week will begin with an introduction to 5S+1, July 31st @ the Plant 06 and Plant 19 large Conference rooms. The event will be exciting and fast-paced; focusing on real time implementation of all our ideas, so come dressed appropriately (jeans, t-shirt, and comfortable shoes).

Myself, I will be in attendance during the training and helping out during the event. I am very excited about that. This process offers you an opportunity and a mechanism to capture and incorporate all the creative ideas that you have to offer. Rise to the challenge, and do not forget that your commitment, support and participation are what will enable our company and our people to benefit from this effort.

Once again, I congratulate you on your selection. I am looking forward to working with you and receiving your usual fine effort in getting the job done.

Don Butcher
Vice President La-Z-Boy Dayton Plant

Jul 27, 2006

Richard K. -- More about the Dayton plant

Hurricanes and tornadoes have put the Dayton (TN) La-Z-Boy plant in a catch-up situation. Last year’s hurricane affected the supply of an ingredient in the foam we use in our chairs. It’s made in a plant just outside New Orleans that was destroyed by Katrina. It was under eight feet of water.

Worse, it is one of only two facilities worldwide that produces that chemical. That put us on 50% allocation for foam, and we weren’t able to make all the chairs we had orders for.

Then we had a tornado in Newton (IA) that hit our plywood plant, putting it out of commission for a while. The plant supplies all the plywood to all our plants, adding to our problems at Dayton.

So we’re still churning our way through a huge backlog of orders, just scrambling to get furniture out and satisfy our customers.

Dayton is a small town, and we have about 2,000 employees -- about 2/3 of the local workforce. It’s hard to find people, so the load on our workforce is heavy. If we can increase throughput by 10% without needing any more workers, that will make a big difference.

You’ve got to realize we were very passionately embracing lean prior to this. Two years ago La-Z-Boy embarked on its lean journey, moving from batch and queue to cellular manufacturing. The Dayton (TN) plant is about 25% of the way. To finance the cell conversion, however, the more traditional processes need to be profitable. That is why we're going back to make them more lean.

Having this “extreme plant makeover” in Dayton will give us a forum to train La-Z-Boy 5S champions in one location. Our folks have been playing with the lean tools for awhile now, but they need to get to the next level of professionalism.

Because of our need for throughput, we didn’t want to divert too many resources from daily production. We decided to bring in outside people to help. We asked suppliers to come in and give us some tricks. In addition, there are about 20 sets of volunteer “outside eyes” coming. Two plant managers are coming of their own volition. That alone is sending a huge acknowledgement that they see value in enhancing their own facilities and think this model might work for them.

Getting everyone together can start them sharing ideas and establishing e-mail contacts. We need people to exchange implementation experience so nobody has to reinvent things as we’re going forward. We might use something like this blog if people start using it.

The event will also be accelerating our journey to cellular manufacturing, which is probably going to take another year. We don’t have the resources to go completely cellular throughout all our facilities.

The 5S program will have three tracks – supplier coach clinics, areas for intensive care, and quick projects for the general population. We plan to do one “S” per day, beginning with a simulation to train all the salaried employees and the outside folks. It will create a common datum and understanding of 5S as it relates to La-Z-Boy. In the intensive care processes, we expect a 4 to 1 ROI by increasing throughput through workplace organization.

To me, 5S is not just housekeeping. While it starts with workplace organization, it branches off into most of the lean tools. As we go, it might happen that some folks decide they want to put in a kanban system. We want to be able to immediately teach them how to do it. That’s where the “satellite teaches” come in.

We may or may not hold a contest. We’ll see how the week progresses and decide then. At La-Z-Boy, we don’t use contests for competition between departments or people. They are about recognizing employees and best practices.

It’s more like: “Look at what these guys are doing. This is awesome -- how do we publicize it?” We create the recognition and take pictures and hopefully that starts cross-pollination of a best practice, particularly in these very large plants where employees don’t migrate through the entire facility.

We’re finding that we’ve got to spend a lot of time on the preparatory phase, defining projects we want people to deliver, or it’s not going to happen. Chris White, the on-site event coordinator, has spent nearly 1,100 man hours taking pictures and identifying projects.

Then we want to do everything we can to sustain the progress. That’s why we’re training the supervisors with the simulation. The TPM (total productive maintenance) teach is another way to sustain. It gives us a checklist to ensure that once we have made the changes, we know how we are keep them in place?

It’s pretty exciting stuff. We’re just going to roll with it and see what happens. If this model works, we’re definitely going to look at deploying it in other plants.
-- Richard Kunst

Jul 24, 2006

Extreme plant makeover - a diary

It started when Richard Kunst, VP for Continuous Improvement at La-Z-Boy’s Residential Group, issued the following invitation to readers of his July 3rd e-newsletter, “Lean Thoughts”:

We need your assistance to enhance and improve our Dayton Tennessee facility. This will be a one week long learning experience where the model is simply “LEARN, LEAN and APPLY”. We are planning to host the event in the week commencing July 31, 2006. Come and participate to help accelerate the conversion towards world-class at this facility. This goes beyond traditional 5S, we need help implementing FIFO lanes, Supermarkets, Kan Ban systems, Pokeyoke, Visuals, the list goes on …

The Dayton La-Z-Boy campus has 25 acres under roof and contains 4 factories (2 upholstery facilities, a wood supply centre and a metal supply centre). We employ over 2000 employees, all of whom are committed change agents and passionate about positive change. Wanna have fun and learn at the same time? Why not schedule your vacation and attend the event at the same time?

Why the need?
The journey has already started at the facility. All of the critical Value Streams have been mapped and exciting projects have been identified. Quite frankly, our through-put capability is not sufficient to satisfy our customer demand. Our folks are tired from working 6 days per week and we cannot recruit and train folks fast enough to satisfy our capacity requirements. They NEED YOU !!!

The Vision
We are already working hard to develop our homework assignments across the campus. We are hoping that at the conclusion of our workshop week that we will be able to increase through-put by at least 10% and dramatically reduce our supporting inventory.

We think that this venue will be an excellent opportunity to network and leverage the tools we have developed within the consortium. Just think you can personally contribute to making a North American industry sector not only survive but thrive. As we continue to develop the agenda we will be inviting in suppliers … so you can learn from them and try their products.

What you are going to find is a great Lead Team on the site that is welcome a receptive to new ideas. They are a genuinely hospitable group and a great joy to work with. They truly understand the challenges of today’s economy and the need for change. In essence I am hoping to make this a working conference … you have all attended conferences and heard the “Rags to Riches” stories and even stolen some great ideas … now is your chance to implement sustainable change.

We are working on some additional surprises that will benefit all of us. Each day we will begin with a short training session and then be dispatched to apply our learning’s. At the conclusion of the day, we will host a de-brief to communicate our success and benchmark best practices

Starts at the top ,right? We have it. Many of the senior leaders of the corporation will be parking their titles for a week and donning coveralls to assist our folks in this exciting transformation. Don Butcher, the campus Leader, has committed that each employee will commit 1 hour of their time during the week towards the Extreme Plant Makeover. Our challenge is to not impact current production... remember, we are capacity constrained

With over 2000 employees and 25 acres under roof you can realize the challenge I am going face in doing this facilitation. I am asking you to help facilitate, learn, assist in implementation and have fun while at the same time helping one the most well recognized brand names blossom. Just imagine the impact of change you can deliver.

“Lean Reflections” will be acting as a collection point for experiences throughout the week’s event. Participants at Dayton, as well as folks from La-Z-Boy’s other facilities will be able to tap into the excitement. We hope regular readers will comment and add their expertise. You can contact Richard at RKunst@la-z-boy.com.

Jul 19, 2006

Don't make me think!

That’s Krug’s Law, and the title Steve Krug’s irreverent book about web usability. If you have a web site, this little book (181 pages) could make a big difference. It could also help you improve standard work documents, visual controls and building signage.

Steve doesn’t call it the gemba, but he knows where to find it. Right next to the user trying to get something done on your site. Conference-room debates about what the “average user” will do are about as worthwhile as what the “average worker” will do, or how the “average part” will go through a process.

Web designers create waste when they don’t understand “eye paths,” what a person does when encountering a web page, brochure, or printed instructions. People don’t start at the top left corner and read down each column from left to right.

They scan, zig-zagging down the page to see if there’s anything there they care about. There are visual dead spots, like the upper right-hand corner and the lower left. Steve shows how to make a visual hierarchy that telegraphs how the page’s information is structured. What happens when someone sees your web site or powerpoint presentation?

Krug’s “second law of writing for the web” (or anything else) is …
You’d be surprised at how many needless words we use – OK in conversation – but waste in writing that must convey information fast. Here’s a game I like to play using the word-count function in Microsoft Word’s tools. Take a piece of writing and cut it by 20%, then go back a week later and cut 20% more.

Steve’s book is visual, with a big investment in color printing and pictures of real web pages. The “before” and “after” examples are eye-opening. Steve reveals the principles of good navigation – also applicable to where to put your andon boards, or other plant visuals.

[I just cut the text above from 381 words and 1775 characters to 318 words and 1519 characters – only about 15%, but I added a thought. Hey- I went back and got two more without even trying.]

So get the book, and tell me what you think. Don’t make me think

Jul 11, 2006

String-savin' granddad

Granddaddy ran a tool crib at a Chrysler assembly plant back in the day. Here's what he had to say about some tough times and cut-backs...

“The white collar experts decree that our main cribs of supplies maintain stock on a 30-day basis. Anything not called for in 30 days is gone, so as it falls to all of us accumulators, I have more and more visitors as perfectly good tools and equipment are taken away.

“A sample – I take a rec to tool crib for 50 3/8-in. dia steel balls. They have been sent to storage because they were not needed in the last 30 days. I go to Storage, but not knowing the Commodity Number, perhaps something like QST 795-6021-5 LA, I refrain from raising the roof and get a couple of new ball bearings and wreck them for the needed balls. Soon there will be more new bearings bought for me to bust.

“Often though, they ask me what I want with certain items and I will not tell them so am refused. This conjures up a bit of doing but like the bearings, there are always things to break up and the scrap pile about a mile out in the back is not closed to me.

“Two guys who repair the portable tools have to get recs signed by three people before they can use the dowels, gears, etc, that they already have in their cribs. When they run out, due to ordering delay and summary cancellations, they come to me for things.

“An old garbage-scanner and string-saver like me must constantly look over his properties so that when the other departments send their men on emergency errands to me they get quick and agreeable service." - J .R. McWhorter, December 4, 1960

Sounds absurd, but if you did some close observation in your plant, would you find similar hoards and workarounds? What about the beautiful red tool chests the shop-floor people don’t want to give up? When people can count on getting what they need quickly, there’s no need for storage.

When “white-collar” guys and gals make “decrees” about things like how much stock to keep and how to control decisions about what gets released to those who need it, they frustrate and demean people who know what they need to get the job done. Yes, everyone wants to save money and get to zero inventory, but some situations call for buffers and back-ups until the reasons for them have been cleared up.

In the office too. Dianna and Faith, along with some other SME folks, have been clearing out those departmental office-supply stashes - there are enough staples, paper clips and sundry other items to supply the Army for a year. Hmm...the Army? More like a couple of hours - but you get the drift. Staples (the store) or Office Depot can get you anything you need the next day, so you don't need much of a buffer. No kanbans for the supplies yet, but they'll be introduced soon.

Jul 6, 2006

Lean laundry

A lot of people hate doing the laundry, but I like seeing the results.

Time vs. kilowatt hours
It was a slogan created by the wife of a Delmarva Power and Light executive during the oil crisis of the 1970s: “Use your solar dryer.” Is this an example of lean? It takes more time to hang clothes on the line than to move them from the washer to the dryer. More labor too. And space, since you need a dryer for winter and rainy days.

What would I be doing if I weren’t hanging out the clothes? Working? Reading or watching TV? Hanging up laundry gets me out of the house for some fresh air and mild exercise. I save an infinitesimal amount of otherwise-squandered fossil fuel. Sheets and towels get that line-dried crispness and fresh-air smell.

Space? A piece of PVC pipe is planted in the dirt, and holds the base of the drying thing when it’s in use.

My clotheslines are mounted on an umbrella-like folding contraption that lives in the garage.

The invaluable “sock lock”
Whoever invented this humble, handy and hard-to-find device ought to get the Nobel Prize. It does away with the “missing sock” problem and time-wasting sock-sorting. When you take off your socks, you hook them together with the sock lock. They go from hamper to washer to dryer then back to the dresser. Your fresh socks are right there, still locked together.

Mike insisted I include this one
Yes, you can be married to a man for 27 years and not know everything about him. I didn’t know that every time I put his clean underwear in his dresser, Mike took it back out and stacked it in his version of an efficient presentation. The underwear can’t be inside out, and it has to be stacked with the front side up. The waistband is oriented toward the wearer. So, when he rolls out of bed late, he can grab the top pair, have it perfectly oriented in front of him, and step right into it.

Lean at home often amounts to trivial gains. Yet it helps keep the habit of seeing lean opportunities everywhere.
Copyright @ 2005-2014 by Karen Wilhelm